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Job Photographs

  • A man is standing at a workbench, in a busy factory.  He is working on a pair of trousers.

    Repairing the damaged lining of a leather jacket.

  • A woman is checking the sleeves of a black jacket.

    Checking a jacket.

  • Someone is using a sewing machine.

    Alteration workers use various types of sewing machine.

  • A man is standing at a workbench, in a busy factory.  He is working on a piece of fabric.

    Specialist skills may be needed, for example, when working on theatrical costumes.

  • A man and a woman are standing in a shop. The man is trying on a black jacket.  The woman has a tape measure round her shoulders.

    You'll need some people skills in this career.

  • A woman sewing a light blue garment.

    You'll need to be very good at sewing to become a clothing alteration worker.

  • A woman in a shop is checking a black garment.  She is wearing a tape measure around her shoulders.

    You'll need an excellent eye for detail in this career.

  • A woman is dressing a mannequin in a shop window.

    You'll have to work on all types of clothing in this career.

  • Clothing Alteration Worker

Clothing Alteration Worker


Clothing alteration workers make changes and repairs to all types of garments. They use sewing machines and do hand stitching. A small number of alteration workers specialise and work on theatrical costumes.

Work Activities

As a Clothing Alteration Worker, you will make changes to all types of garments, such as dresses, trousers, skirts and jackets. The work is carried out from instructions given by the customer. Garments may be altered by hand or by machine and are pressed once alterations are complete.

Alterations include:

  • repairing damaged garments
  • shortening or lengthening clothes
  • taking in and letting out items
  • replacing zips and buttons.

Various kinds of fabric are worked on including silk, cotton, linen, wool and synthetics, such as polyester. Tools used include sewing machines, needles, pins and scissors. You usually need to maintain your own machines.

Many Clothing Alteration Workers combine this type of work with tailoring or dressmaking. This type of work is often done at home, although sewing rooms are sometimes found in separate workrooms at retail premises.

Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.

Personal Qualities and Skills

To become a Clothing Alteration Worker, you will need:

  • to have nimble fingers and be able to work neatly, quickly and accurately
  • a good working knowledge of sewing techniques
  • patience, as the work can be detailed and require careful attention
  • knowledge of sewing machines
  • good people skills if you have contact with customers

As a large number of alteration workers are self-employed, business skills are also useful.

People with skin conditions and breathing problems may need to think carefully about entering this job.

Pay and Opportunities


The pay rates given below are approximate.

  • Starting: £14,500 - £16,000
  • With experience: £18,500 - £20,000
  • Senior Clothing Alteration Workers earn £23,000

Hours of work

Clothing Alteration Workers usually work 39 hours a week, which may include shift work. There may be opportunities for part-time work and work at home.

Where could I work?

Employers are Dressmakers, fashion houses, Tailors, dry cleaners, theatres, and television and film production companies.

Opportunities for Clothing Alteration Workers occur with employers in towns and cities throughout the UK.


Opportunities occur for experienced Clothing Alteration Workers to work independently on a self-employed basis.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised on all the major job boards, on Universal Jobmatch, and at Jobcentre Plus.

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

Most new applicants are adults with experience in the clothing industry who require little further training.

There are various relevant courses available for people trying to get into this career. For example:

  • the certificate in making it in fashion from the National Open College Network (NOCN) at level 1
  • ABC diplomas in fashion and textiles at levels 1 and 2

An Advanced Level Apprenticeship is also a great place to start. Take a look at our information article 'Apprenticeships – How do I apply', for more details about applying for apprenticeship positions.


Any training usually covers employers' preferred work methods and is carried out on-the-job, under the supervision of an experienced member of staff.

Work Experience

Previous experience working as Sewing Machinists or working in tailoring would be really useful for this career.


Progression could be to supervisory positions.


You do not usually need educational qualifications to enter this work. However, most have experience of garment production. A GCSE in art and design, or design and technology (textiles technology) would be useful.

To get onto an Advanced Level Apprenticeship, you'll usually need 5 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, including English and maths, or to have completed an Intermediate Level Apprenticeship. 

For most level 1 qualifications, there aren't any entry requirements.

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.


Most entrants have skills in some form of garment manufacturing. Many have worked as sewing machinists or in tailoring.

Practical work in the clothing manufacturing industry is valuable. An interest in fashion and design is helpful.


Some people enter this career via a Fashion and Textiles Intermediate Level Apprenticeship.


  • 51% of people in occupations such as clothing alteration are self-employed.
  • 28% work part-time.

Further Information

Apprenticeships: Get In. Go Far

National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)

Tel: 0800 015 0400



Skills Development Scotland - Modern Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 9178000



Creative Skillset

Skills for the creative industries



Creative Choices

Publisher: Creative & Cultural Skills



Creative & Cultural Skills

Skills for craft, cultural heritage, design, literature, music, performing arts and visual arts




Tel: 0114 2270500



Textile Institute

Address: 1st Floor, St James's Buildings, Oxford Street, Manchester M1 6FQ

Tel: 0161 2371188



Drapers: The Fashion Business

Publisher: EMAP

Address: Greater London House, Hampstead Road, London NW1 7EJ

Tel: 020 3033 2600


ABC Awards



Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 028 4844


Croeso i Gyrfa Cymru

Dewiswch iaith


Welcome to Careers Wales

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